The latest Medieval Monday was Author’s Choice. I chose Home Truths, and a scene quite late on in the book when Lucy had finally had enough of Roger’s hypocrisy and let rip at him. I’m sharing the whole scene here of anyone who missed some of the snippets.
A knife stabbed Roger’s chest, knocking the wind from him harder than if the blow had been real. He gripped the doorframe. He must have made a sound because the miller’s eyes focused on him. ‘Wait your turn,’ the miller barked. ‘She hasn’t yet started on me.’
Lucy whipped her head round. Her face twisted with horror. She pointed a trembling hand at the door.
The miller jerked Lucy round to face him once more.
‘You’ve not even begun yet,’ he said harshly, putting his hands on her shoulders and attempting to force her to her knees.
Lucy looked over her shoulder at Roger.
‘I told you to leave.’ Her words turned to a sob.
Roger stepped forward and tugged her hand from the miller’s belt. ‘You’re leaving with me.’
She wrenched free and ran from the room with her head down.
‘Where are you going?’ demanded the miller.
Roger bared his teeth in a warning growl to silence the man, then followed. Lucy was running at full tilt towards the river and the road skirting round the town. She ignored Roger’s cry. He broke into a run and seized her by the arm. She fought him, but Roger was not to be deterred. He took her by the waist and held her tight, hands spread in the hollow of her spine. She wriggled in his arms like a dove trying to escape a hawk. He’d dreamed of holding her this close, the tantalising moments when they had come close to kissing had driven him wild, but this was not what he had imagined.
‘What are you doing here?’ Lucy asked through gritted teeth. ‘How did you find me?’
‘I won the game and the purse. I wanted to tell you, but you weren’t where I had left you,’ Roger said. Remembering the plans he had been making on his way there, he felt his temper surge.
‘Is that Robbie’s father?’
‘No!’ She stiffened in his arms.
‘Is he your lover?’ Was this the reason she had refused him? The miller already had a claim on her affections. Roger’s pride revolted at the idea that she would give herself to a repellent figure like Risby while refusing Roger. She refused to meet his eye, twisting her torso away from him. Roger took his hands from her waist and stepped back, his heart splitting in two.
‘I take it that means he is.’
Lucy made a sound of disgust. She fixed him with eyes full of contempt. ‘Is that what you think love looks like? That says more about you than it does about me! Do you really think I could love a man like him? Don’t you know anything of me?’
Her lip trembled and her voice dropped to a whisper. Her eyes filled with tears that made Roger’s heart break. ‘I owe him money I haven’t got. He suggested another way I could pay the debt.’
Understanding flashed through Roger, followed by revulsion. Lucy was not doing this through love, or even desire. It was a cold-hearted transaction. Roger wasn’t sure if this was worse or better than believing her in love.
‘You were going to give yourself to him?’
‘Not completely,’ Lucy protested. ‘There are other ways to satisfy a man, as I’m sure you know!’ She covered her face with her hands.
‘All the time I’ve lived under your roof I believed you a virtuous woman,’ Roger muttered. ‘Now I discover I could have bought an hour’s tumble if I’d had the money.’
‘The commodity is mine to do with as I please.’ Lucy’s eyes were now free of the tears he had seen threatening to spill and were full of icy fury.
‘Is that how you view your body?’ Roger asked in disgust.
‘Isn’t it how men see it?’ She drew herself up to her full height, shoulders back, causing her breasts to jut forward in a way that Roger could not ignore.
‘You’d have paid if you thought that might allow you to wet your staff, you just admitted it. How many women like me have you swived in your time? How many do you think wanted to be doing it? Did you ever stop to wonder why they took your money?’
‘I rarely had to pay them.’
‘Not in coins, perhaps,’ Lucy muttered.
Roger thought of the women in his past. Kitty, the maid at Lord Harpur’s house, even Joanna who he had never persuaded to do more than kiss and fumble, to say nothing of the handful of women he could barely even remember. A pang of loneliness shot through Roger. ‘Are you suggesting they only accepted my attentions for what I gave them? I always assumed they had loved me.’
‘That’s my point!’ Lucy shouted. ‘Perhaps they cared for you, perhaps they felt forced, but you never asked. It never occurred to you that you had to. At least I’m honest enough not to pretend I care for Risby and I know he cares nothing for me. Tell me, what I should have done instead? How should I survive with no money and no one to help me?’
Lucy flung an arm out violently towards the miller’s house. ‘It doesn’t matter who you are, poor men like him…rich men like you…like Robbie’s father…’
She swept closer to him, trembling with anger, her cheeks scarlet. ‘You use women like me until you’ve had enough, then you leave us to mend our lives and reputations as best we can.’ She wrapped her arms around herself, trembling violently. ‘You have no idea what it costs me to do this. How I die inside each time, wishing it would be over. You dare to sit in judgement over me? How dare you!’
In the face of her bile, Roger recoiled. How had this changed from his abhorrence at what she had done to her attacking him?
‘If the woman you fathered a bastard on hadn’t died in childbirth, would she be doing anything different to me now? How many of those others did she lie with willingly and how many so she didn’t starve?’
Her words knocked the strength from Roger. He shook his head, unable to defend himself against her accusations.
‘You have nothing to say? From the moment you met me you did your best to talk me into your bed.’
‘I tried to get you into bed, but I wanted you to come willingly,’ Roger protested. ‘I wanted it to mean something.’
‘Mean something? To you or to me?’ She laughed. She actually laughed, loud and shrill, until Roger understood it was no laugh at all, but pain escaping in an alarming flood of emotion.
‘I know you want me and you know I want you, too. I’ve resisted you and tried to ignore the feelings and desires I know will only lead to misery but it hasn’t been easy.’
She reached out and put her hands on Roger’s face, fingers spreading to caress his cheeks. The gesture was so unexpected after her venomous outburst that Roger accepted her touch without thinking. She looked into his eyes, piercing his soul with her intensity.
‘Now you know what sort of woman I am, do you still want me?’
He did. Despite what he had seen, the thought of touching her ran like molten iron through his blood. She was in his arms, her breasts pushing against his chest, sending a surge of longing through him. His lips craved hers…
‘You have money now. Will you spend your winnings on rutting in my bed?’
She ran a hand slowly from his cheek down his chest to settle at his waist. He gasped as lust riddled his body, instantly hardening him. Her eyes briefly flitted down and she looked into his eyes triumphantly.
‘Should I do that for you instead and use your money to pay him?’ she breathed.
Roger growled in revulsion as the blood that had raced hot became ice. He clenched his jaw, only realising as she whipped her hands away that Lucy would have felt the tension through her fingers. She gave one distraught sob before she turned on her heel and ran. The sound ripped Roger’s heart from his chest, leaving him hollow and the strength that had been ebbing since his exertions at the tilt failed him.
This time he let her go.
The spy who sought refuge… When injured spy Sir Roger Danby comes asking for shelter at her inn, Lucy Carew is wary. He may be strikingly handsome, but the disgraced single mother has learned the hard way with men like him. Against her better judgment, she gives him refuge. Sir Roger has never been at the mercy of a woman before, and he’s never met one as mysterious and bewitching as Lucy. He hasn’t come looking for redemption, but Lucy is a woman who could reach in and touch his closely guarded heart…
Redeeming the Rogue Knight is available online in the following places
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